Considering that his show last Tuesday was his sixth time performing at Mary Washington, John Taglieri is no stranger to this school or the small following he has accumulated here.
Unlike several previous musicians that have weathered the unpredictability of Open Mic Night at the Underground, Taglieri possessed a fairly casual, intimate, and laid-back stage presence. If he had never even mentioned that he was feeling a bit under the weather, it is possible that the audience members would have been none the wiser.
Before initiating his set, Taglieri asked the crowd for cover suggestions. This request was met by many disturbing responses from the spectators that would leave anyone with little faith left in humanity. When someone yelled out “Freebird,” Taglieri gave up and began his set with a couple of his own songs.
They were very conventional, with cookie-cutter form and a sound too similar to everything else you’d find on the radio. The lyrics seemed very generic and it was a little disappointing that someone with little knowledge of the guitar could name a majority of the chords he utilized.
However, his performance quickly escalated as soon as he broke out the cover songs, playing many crowd pleasers like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Train’s “Hey Soul Sister,” The All-American Rejects’ “Give You Hell,” and “Wonderwall” by Oasis, which turned into a surprisingly good rendition of Aerosmith’s “Dream On.”
There were a few covers that did not go over quite as well, such as “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett, which he stopped halfway through due to an unresponsive audience, and “Purple Rain” by Prince, which sounded a little pitchy in certain places.
He ended the set by demanding that everyone get up and flock to the area in front of the stage and performing his strongest cover, “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. It was by far the best suited song for his voice and playing style.
Seeing Taglieri switch between acoustic and electric guitar, while creating loops with different riffs and beats, was thoroughly enjoyable. It ensured that his performance was solid and did not lack depth and variation, even though he was playing unaccompanied (which has the potential to be mind-numbingly dull).
His solos were possibly the best part of his act, executing excellent riffs and technique that his songs made up purely of chords lacked. His rough voice was perfect for the type of songs he performed, especially with the raw power and projection he could emit. He could also unexpectedly hit high notes for his range.
Ultimately, Taglieri seemed to have fun performing and attempting to engage the crowd. After commenting on how several audience members were drinking beer, one was brought onstage for him to replace his fountain drink.
Taglieri has a new album coming out on November 16th and more information can be found on Tagtheband.com. A seventh appearance is completely plausible, especially after he said that performing at Mary Washington just gets “better and better.”